Monday, September 1, 2014

Cioppino aka San Francisco Seafood Stew

Cioppino is a fish stew originating in San Francisco, California. It is considered an Italian-American dish, and is related to various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cuisine. Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, which in San Francisco is typically a combination of Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, and fish all sourced from the Pacific Ocean. The seafood is then combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce, and served with toasted bread, either local sourdough or French bread.

Cioppino was developed in the late 1800s primarily by Italian fishermen who settled in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, many from the port city of Genoa. Originally it was made on the boats while out at sea and later became a staple as Italian restaurants proliferated in San Francisco.

The name comes from ciuppin, a word in the Ligurian dialect spoken in Genoa meaning "to chop" or "chopped," which describes the process of making the stew by chopping up various leftovers of the day's catch. Ciuppin is also the name of a classic soup from the region, similar in flavor to cioppino but with less tomato and using Mediterranean seafood cooked to the point that it falls apart.

The dish also shares its origin with other regional Italian variations of seafood stew ("zuppe di pesce (it)") similar to ciuppin, including cacciucco from Tuscany, brodetto (it) from Abruzzo, Quatàra di Porto Cesareo (it), and others. Similar dishes can be found in coastal regions throughout the Mediterranean, from Portugal to Greece. Examples of these include suquet de peix (ca) from Catalan-speaking regions of coastal Spain and bouillabaisse from Provence.

Cioppino aka San Francisco Seafood Stew
Cioppino aka San Francisco Seafood Stew Recipe From Wikibooks Cookbook

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
6 ounces onion, chopped
8 ounces of celery, chopped
3 large shallots, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
6 ounces tomato paste

2 pounds diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
5 cups of water
1 bay leaf
2 pounds crabs, any type, cut into pieces
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 pound scallops
1 1/2 pounds tilapia cut into two-inch chunks (or substitute any fish with a white, firm flesh)
2 loaves of San Francisco sourdough bread or any other bread with a chewy crust

This recipe calls for live mussels. Here are some safety guidelines for buying, eating and cooking live bivalves (mussels and clams): Never buy a mussel/clam that's open or cracked. Never eat a mussel/clam that won't open after cooking. Cook mussels/clams within 24 hours of purchasing. Always brush mussels/clams clean before cooking. Remove beards from mussels as well.

Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and three quarters of a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and sauté for two minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, water, crabs, celery and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
Add the mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the mussels begin to open. This should take about five minutes. Add the scallops and fish. Simmer gently until the fish and scallops are just cooked through and all the mussels are completely open, gently stirring occasionally. This should take about another 10 minutes. Check the soup for closed mussels and throw them out. Remove the bay leaf. Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes.
It's customary to serve cioppino with San Francisco sourdough bread. However, any bread with a thick, chewy crust will do.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || Wikibooks Cookbook || Image Credit: Flickr/CreativeCommons

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rabbit Stew aka Hasenpfeffer

Hasenpfeffer is a traditional German stew made from marinated rabbit or hare, cut into stewing-meat sized pieces and braised with onions and a marinade made from wine and vinegar.

Hase is German for 'hare' and Pfeffer is German for '(black) pepper,' although here it refers generically to the spices and seasonings in the dish overall, as with the German ginger cookies called pfeffernüsse. Seasonings typically include fresh cracked black pepper or whole peppercorns, and the following: salt, onions, garlic, lemon, sage, thyme, rosemary, allspice, juniper berries, cloves, and/or bay leaf.

In Bavaria and Austria, the cuisines of which have been influenced by neighboring Hungarian and Czech culinary traditions, sweet and/or hot paprika can also be an ingredient. In the North American pioneer era, German immigrants frequently cooked squirrels in the same manner.

Hasenpfeffer aka Rabbit Stew From ND State University Food and Nutrition Creative Commons
Hasenpfeffer aka Rabbit Stew

1 large or 2 small rabbits,
cut in serving pieces
1 cup vinegar
1 cup beer
1 large onion, sliced
2 Tbsp. mixed pickling spices
1 tsp. salt
6 peppercorns, crushed

3 slices bacon
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
3 gingersnaps
1/2 cup sour cream

Combine vinegar, beer, sliced onion, spices, salt and pepper in a large glass, earthenware or enamel container. Add rabbit, cover and refrigerate for 1 or 2 days, turning several times. Remove from marinade and reserve 2 cups of marinade for gravy. Pat rabbit dry. Dredge in flour.

Dice bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp. Remove from fat and set aside. Add rabbit pieces and brown well on all sides, adding a little butter, if necessary. Sprinkle with sugar, cover and cook over moderate heat until tender, about 1 hour, adding a few tablespoons of the marinade to form steam, if necessary. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Add 3 tablespoons of flour to the drippings, add 2 cups of the marinade and crumbled gingersnaps. Adjust seasoning. Cook and stir until smooth and thickened. Add sour cream and blend. Add rabbit and bacon bits and heat only to serving temperature.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 166 calories, 3 grams (g) fat and 17 g carbohydrate.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || North Dakota State University Food and Nutrition Creative Commons Image Credit: Hasenpfeffer photo by pommru Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Blame Canada For This Tasty Treat: Nanaimo Bars

The Nanaimo bar is a dessert item of Canadian origin popular across North America.

It is a bar dessert which requires no baking and is named after the west coast city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. It consists of a wafer crumb-based layer topped by a layer of light vanilla or custard flavoured butter icing which is covered with melted chocolate made from chocolate squares. Many varieties exist, consisting of different types of crumb, different flavours of icing (e.g., mint, peanut butter, coconut, mocha, butterscotch, etc.), and different types of chocolate.

The exact origin of the bar is unknown, though it is attributed to Nanaimo, British Columbia. Though the recipe was reported as appearing in the annual Ladysmith and Cowichan Women's Institute Cookbook, no such cookbook has been found and there is no record of this organization. The earliest confirmed printed copy of the recipe using the name "Nanaimo Bars" appears in the Edith Adams' prize cookbook (14th edition) from 1953. A copy of the book is on view at the Nanaimo museum.

However, following research into the origins of Nanaimo Bars, Lenore Newman writes that the same recipe was published in the Vancouver Sun earlier that same year under the name "London Fog Bar". The recipe later also appears in a publication entitled His/Her Favourite Recipes, Compiled by the Women's Association of the Brechin United Church (1957), with the recipe submitted by Joy Wilgress, a Baltimore, Maryland, native (p.52). (Brechin United Church is in Nanaimo.) This recipe also is reprinted in Kim Blank's book, Sex, Life Itself, and the Original Nanaimo Bar Recipe (Umberto Press, 1999, pp.127-29).

In 1954 the recipe "Mabel's Squares" (p.84) was published in "The Country Woman's Favorite" by the Upper Gloucester Women's Institute (New Brunswick). The recipe was submitted by Mrs. Harold Payne, the daughter of Mabel (Knowles) Scott (1883-1957). The ingredients list, quantities, and fabrication closely match the recipe found on the City of Nanaimo web site.

The first printing of recipes featuring Nanaimo Bar ingredients is found in the 1952 Women's Auxiliary to the Nanaimo Hospital Cookbook, which features three nearly identical recipes that differ only slightly from the modern Nanaimo Bar. They are referred to as the "Chocolate Square" or the "Chocolate Slice".

Other unconfirmed references date the bars back to the 1930s, when it was said to be known locally as "chocolate fridge cake". Some New Yorkers claim the recipe originated in New York and refer to them as "New York Slices". However, Tim Hortons coffee shops, a Canadian chain, sell them in New York as "Nanaimo Bars". One modern reference even refers to the bars' existing in nineteenth century Nanaimo.

The popularity of the bar in Nanaimo led local residents to mobilise to have it voted "Canada's Favourite Confection" in a National Post reader survey. In 1985, Mayor Graeme Roberts initiated a contest to find the ultimate Nanaimo bar recipe, and the recipe submitted by Joyce Hardcastle, a resident of Nanaimo, was unanimously selected by a panel of judges.

If you're visiting British Columbia, the official tourism site of Nanaimo Canada provides a map and a list of 34 places where you can find several variations of the confection including a deep fried Nanaimo bar and a Nanaimo bar tea latte.

Joyce Hardcastle's Nanaimo Bar Recipe From Foodista Creative Commons
Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ c. finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Second Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Third Layer
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Bottom Layer: Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan. Second Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer. Third Layer: Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || Nanaimo Canada || Foodista Creative Commons || Image Credit: Nanaimo Bar